Thursday, December 15, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me

Today's my birthday.

Well, not my NATAL birthday, although it is a form of genesis. It's the first anniversary of the day when Cogito Ergo Geek was born.

Actually, I published for a couple of weeks before December 15th, but this is the day when I installed StatsCounter and started keeping track of hits. (20,706 as of right now) Almost everything posted earlier in 2005 was just practice, trying to decide on a format, and learning to use the software.

My first post was on December 1, 2004, and it was pretty gruesome.

But the second week of January contains articles which still are among the most commonly referenced (by keyword) over the past year, and in fact are still getting 'hits' today:

January 15, Gold Medal Gunslingers - VPC takes on "IPSC as an Olympic Sport"
January 12, STI IPSC 30th Anniversary Edition - a beautiful STI EDGE
January 12, Heston, "Winning the Culture War" - 2/16/1999 speach to Harvard Law School Forum
January 12, Heston, "On Gun Control" - 2/11/1997 speach to National Press Club
January 11, The General - Eulogy to Mike Jones, who started IPSC competition in Oregon
January 10, STI Special Edition - a 24 caret gold-plated (looking good!) STI Edge
January 9, Amazing Stories - television commercials that lie

Since then I've written about IPSC rules, gun-control issues (including detailed analysis of new and proposed state & federal laws), police shootings that have made the news, gadgets, gizmos, guns, girls, Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip (still haven't found a copy I can afford), cars - ugly cars, car races, car accidents, shooting matches, political elections, fluffy kitties ....
okay, I lied about the kitties.

I've installed new software and new features: Statscounter, Technorati ("Blogs that link to me"), books, music and movies I'm reading/listening to/watching, a photo gallery, a rudimentary website (work in progress - very little progress so far, no link offered!), Day By Day Cartoon, Haloscan, software to upload, download, resize and reformat both photos and videos. I've got rid of dial-up and AOL in favor of high-speed internet and Comcast email. This last move actually SAVED me money and will save me even more as soon as I quit my telephone landline and go to strictly cell telephony. I've even learned some HTML, and bought Front Page . . . which is the reason why my web-page is still rudimentary, since after I bought it I learned that my web hosting friend (Thank you again, Brian!) can't support Front Page-generated webpages.

Actually, I've spent less than $300 on this website during the past year: $100 of that was the FrontPage software, and the rest was subscriptions to online services. For example, to research the 'TV ads that lie" article, I subscribed to Consumer Reports so I could get the low-down on an "ionic air purifier" . . . just to prove that it didn't work. Blogspot is free, ImageShack (hosted my photos for a while) cost me $5 so I could upload a lot of photos at once, WS-FTP cost me $40 so I could upload a LOT of files to the webhost, and I'm currently enrolled in a 'trial period', with NapSter so I can download music to go with the videos I produce.

(I don't count the $300 I paid for a digital camera, which also takes the photos; it's my blog, I can do my accounting any way I want to.)

Actually, the internet hosting and the photo gallery haven't cost me anything yet. My friend Brian is hosting online services, and the gallery software is free except that Brian had to install it on his server.

Have I thanked Brian enough yet? Probably not. He hosts websites for the Columbia Cascade Section and the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club (ARPC) as part of his ARPC volunteer support, and has graciously allowed me to piggy-back on his server. I promised to overload his system, but I haven't yet. I'm working on it, and apparently the 1000+ photos and videos haven't over-encumbered his server yet. When it does, I've made a standing offer to buy another hard-drive, but we aren't there yet.

I've met a lot of new friends here.

I started by linking to other RKBA- and Shooting-related websites. Then I got to meet some of the other gun-bloggers in the PNW last September. I've found quite a few of them, and enjoyed the email and occasional personal chats with them. They only reinforce my opinion that gun-folks are the nicest people in the world.

I would, and probably should, identify them all by name here. But if you're a regular reader you know those who I have already met, and you see all of the links on my sidebar. I consider that a formal introduction and if you haven't read them yet, you should.

In my original post I mentioned that this was a "vanity" blog, and this article simply serves to reinforce the impression.

I've indulged myself here by just talking about how my experiences in the past year have been satisfying and fulfilling. I can do that, because it's my blog and often I don't expect what I write to be very interesting to others.

Sometimes, though, I've been able to contribute to a dialogue on a subject which takes hold of the reader and enhances comments made by others. The continuing story of Barrett's .50 BMG is one example; evaluation of proposed gun-control laws is another.

When I talked about the love and respect that followed Mike Jones after his death, over 200 people linked from the Canadian Gun Nuts Forum because they understood that a man's life extends past his death, if he is a worthy man. Mike was one such a man and I miss him still.

If I can say that I was proud of any single thing I wrote, it would have to be "The General".

You will note that the only links I've included in this article are to my First Post, my first 'good week', and to "The General".

That's because I realize that if I started providing links I would have to admit that 99% of the content was just BS.

Vanity. All vanity.

I'm having a good time. Thanks for the ride. I wouldn't have done it without you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

UK Hospitals may ban treatment for smokers, drinkers

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

A recent ruling may allow medical practitioners to disallow appropriate treatment to patients if they feel that a patient's "lifestyle" will undermine the effectiveness of the treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said that doctors who considered that a particular treatment might not be effective, or cost-effective, because of the lifestyle of the patient, may be entitled to withhold it.
That's 'NICE'.

Speaking of the NICE report,

It concluded that clinical guidance should recommend a treatment for a particular age group only where there was clear evidence of a difference in the treatmentÂ’s effectiveness for that age group.
(Emphasis added)

"Clear evidence."

I presume this means that if your British doctor says "This MAY help, but again it may not", the hospital isn't obliged to make the treatment available to the afflicted.

Well, there's a splendid argument for Socialized Medicine.

Or, as we refer to it in the States:

"Hillary Care"

Just one more reason, as if we needed one, why that . . . person . . . should never be elected to Public Office.

The World Is Not Enough

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE: The National Conservative Weekly Since 1944

Human Events Online (click the link above for the full text of the article) is working hard to inform us of the latest global incursions on your personal rights.

A recent article delineates the international movement to 'take control' of the Internet.

Ostensibly, this is intended to reduce the predation of pornographers and pedaphiles, hackers and other cyber-criminals whose efforts to attack our personal and commercial selves affects us all.

But the verbiage (as reported here) goes beyond these near-universally accepted boundaries. In practice, according to the author, there is nothing to prevent intrusive legal action against any person who publishes any statement which "they" find objectionable. "They" is not necessarily some unknown and unknowable individual; "they" are foreign governments, whose laws YOU may be breaking by the words and ideas YOU promulgate on the Internet.

How Hot is it, Johnny?

Nobody knows for sure how 'hot' these foreign potentates can make it for the average web-citizen, but since you're reading this, and since I've published it on the Internet, chances are it will affect you either directly or indirectly.

Indirectly, it may reduce the scope of the information you can receive on the Internet, because directly it may reduce the scope of information which may be posted on the Internet.

For an example (selected because of the scope of THIS Internet website), suppose I write an article about a match I attended in the USA in which the Metric Target is used. Suppose further I post pictures from this match, and comment that the "Classic" target is inferior.

We know that some countries have passed laws to the effect that targets which suggest a 'human shape or form' cannot be used for competition. What if some country took this one step further, and outlawed the depiction of people shooting at these targets?

According to this proposal, they are authorized to demand that the Corvallis Police Department arrest me and hold me for trial, because I have broken a law in their country even though I have never been there, and even though I have not mentioned either the country or the law.

To take it one step further, suppose that YOU commented on my article and voiced approval of my thoughts. You may also be held accountable, and be subject to arrest and prosecution even though you were not the author of the original statement(s), or had nothing to do with the shooting match, the photography, or the posting of those thoughts or images on the Internet.

Let's pause here and look at the opening remarks of the artical from Human Events Online:

by James Plummer
Posted Dec 8, 2005

An internationalist assault on the sovereignty of the United States and the privacy of U.S. citizens is currently awaiting action by the full Senate.

The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime is being aggressively pushed by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), who reported the treaty out from his committee in early November. That should come as little surprise, in that Lugar has also been a leading proponent of the better-known Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), another key building-block in the structure of world government.

Originally conceived as a tool to facilitate international cooperation in the pursuit of computer hackers and the like, the Cybercrime Treaty evolved during 15 years of negotiations to encompass any criminal offense that involves electronic evidence -- which in the 21st century is essentially limitless.

As written, it could require more surveillance on Americans who have been accused of violating the laws of foreign countries -- even if they haven’t violated U.S. law. Treaty cheerleaders paint menacing pictures of hackers and child pornographers. But in reality the Convention is drafted so broadly that it encompasses virtually every area of law where the possibility exists of computerized evidence. That could affect thousands of innocent people, including not only political dissidents, but also the politically incorrect.

How does this affect the Average Joe in America?

Well, what if you (or I) object to certain social, religious or moral situations?

The European view of “human rights” includes the shielding from mere criticism of certain protected minorities such as abortionists, third-world immigrants, and homosexuals. The London Times reports that the European Commission has announced its first list of mandatory continent-wide criminal laws and will soon seek to add speech-based crimes such as incitement to hatred to the list. (France has in the past fined California’s Yahoo! for an American customer’s auction of a vintage Nazi war medal.) De Boer-Buquicchio and other Eurocrats regard the Cybercrime Treaty as one of those “global governance mechanisms” by which to enforce these views. She even went on to press for greater ratification of the Cybercrime Treaty in the very same speech.
You don't like Zero-Tolerance laws? Unprotected borders? Pederast Scout-Masters? Are you Pro-Life? Then don't talk about it on the Internet, because it is no longer just the Liberal Athiest Activists who will only argue with you and call you names - you're busted!

There may be some hope that this treaty will not be ratified by the US:
Fortunately, one heroic, albeit currently anonymous, conservative senator has placed a “hold” on this Cybercrime Convention, a procedural maneuver that prevents an immediate, unannounced vote on the floor of the whole Senate. Conservatives concerned with sovereignty and the Bill of Rights need to both become aware and raise others’ awareness of the dangers posed by the Cybercrime Treaty, lest the Senate acquiesce in this subjugation of Americans to European-style “hate speech” laws through an electronic back door.
UN-fortunately, the fact that this objector has chosen to remain anonymous (so far) doesn't bode well for his/her willingness to lead the fight against this treaty.

What happens if a foreign power wants to arrest me for something that isn't illegal here?

Note that this IS a treaty, not a bill in Congress. Is this a good thing? No, it is not. Treaties have the effect of law in the United States of America, and in fact may take precedence when there is a conflict between the treaty and U.S. Law (or the Constitution).

I say this based upon the Treaty of Vienna, which states in part:

Part III Observance, application and interpretation of treaties

Section 1. Observance of treaties

Article 26 Pacta sunt servanda

Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.

Article 27 Internal law and observance of treaties

A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty. This rule is without prejudice to article 46.

This last article is subject to interpretation, but it seems clear that when it says:

A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.
.... it means that if a nation's internal law (including the federal code and the Constitution of the United States) is in disagreement with the treaty, that 'internal law" is not sufficient justification to refuse to enforce any part of the treaty.

Here's the bottom-line in the Department of Bad News:
Most egregious in Lugar’s ratification report to the full Senate is the voluntary declaration that foreign governments, under the fig leaf of “urgency,” be able to order American law enforcement agencies to enforce their orders without judicial review. So even though these foreign orders may be opposition to the U.S. Constitution, no U.S. judge will be able to enforce the Constitution to prevent it. (sic) The treaty also has no “dual criminality” requirement, which means federal law enforcement agencies could be investigating Americans for constitutionally-protected activities which offend European sensibilities.

Even worse, the Cybercrime Treaty is open to all nations to ratify. That means a future leftist President could even allow Communist China to sign on to the treaty and direct U.S. law enforcement to investigate Chinese dissidents, even Americans, based in the United States.
(Emphasis added)

No, I'm not liking this one.

BLOGMEAT! Bore Me - Highway spin

Bore Me - Highway spin

I don't know how old this is, but BORE ME presents (courtesy of ebaum world) a traffic-chopper view of a high-speed chase in Oakland, California. The stolen car is driven by either one of the finest drivers in the world, or one of the luckiest ... or most desperate.

The video is probably not suitable for dial-up, I'm afraid.

Want to see more?

How about a drag race between a motorcycle, a Porsche, and a jet fighter?
The motorcycle gets the jump out of the shoot, but after about 10 seconds is passed by the Tornado, closely followed by the Porsche. Guess who wins?

The Porsche does a nice 'cookie' at the end in celebration of his 2nd place finish, but even then the Tornado's Victory Roll shows where the true class lies.

Another chase scene?

How about the Good Samaritan Truckers on another California freeway?

"I got your 'Rocking Chair' right here, good buddy!"

And the "March of the Toreadors" orchestrates the dancing antics of the Saab Driving Team.

Finally, my personal favorite: Parking Lot War!

Monday, December 12, 2005

This Meme Must Die - REALLY!

One in a row....: 7 wonders meme

See what happens when you don't check your stats frequently? One in a Row dinged me for the 7x7 thingie, and I didn't even realize it until I started poking around through my blogroll.

Sorry, but you've heard all the reasons why I can't / won't resist.

Seven things to do before I die:
  1. Win a stage in an IPSC match
  2. Win an IPSC match!
  3. Learn how to detail-strip a 1911
  4. Put the sucker back together!
  5. Win the lottery, so I can hire somebody ELSE to load ammo!
  6. Go to every 'major' IPSC match in the country for an entire compettive year
  7. Get my Christmas presents mailed on time
Seven things I cannot do:
  1. Keep a clean house when I am NOT depressed
  2. Wrap presents
  3. Go to the bathroom without 'reading material'
  4. Be punctual
  5. Eat my vegetables
  6. Repair ANYTHING mechanical
  7. Stay mad
Seven things that attract me to......(SWMBO):
  1. Sexy
  2. Stronger than she thinks she is
  3. Thinks I'm funny
  4. Perfect comedic timing
  5. Certified Range Officer, and good at it
  6. Willing to risk 'looking silly', but she never does
  7. Responsible, assertive, brains, beauty, and she shoots. What's not to like?

Seven things I say most often:
  1. I really shouldn't
  2. Okay, but just one
  3. You say that like it's A Bad Thing
  4. What? (My best John Travolta impression)
  5. "When you're gonna shoot, shoot. Don't talk."
  6. I'm not as dumb as I look
  7. My pop always use to say . . .

Seven books (or series) that I love:

  1. Stephan Hunter "Bob the Nailer" series
  2. David Drake "Hammers Slammers" series
  3. Robert B Parker "Spenser" series
  4. Rudyard Kipling . . . everything!
  5. David Weber "Honor Harrington" series
  6. Lois McMaster Bujold "Vor" series
  7. Robert Heinlein . . . everything!
Seven movies I watch over and over again:
  1. Silverado
  2. Last Man Standing
  3. Face Off
  4. La Femme Nikita
  5. Red River
  6. Ronin
  7. The Mummy
Seven suckers I want to infect:

Nobody. Like I said, "This Meme Must Die!"

Besides, I'm ticked off. There aren't nearly enough opportunities to list all of the books and movies I read/watch over and over, and I've made some very difficult choices.

The Meme Stops Here! (maybe)

45-Caliber Justice: Stoopid Meme.

Blogger Memes are like chain letters. You know, pass this along to five people within five days or you will have five years of bad luck. Yikes. Frankly, I've HAD five years of bad luck, and I survived them, so that don't scare me none (as my hill-william family would say.)

Jason at .45-caliber justice (see above) was 'kind enough' to tag me for this one, and as I've said on similar occasions I just can't resist either Cosmopolitan Magazine Surveys or memes. Simple common decency should give me strength, but the spirit is weak, so here are

Five Weird Things About Me

(1) I really am a geek. That's small-letter geek, not Major Geek and certainly not Alpha GEEK! I started computer programming in 1972, which indicates that I represent 23 years of mediocrity, and counting. People actually pay me to do this stuff. Oh, not for blogging, or posting pictures. They pay me to write application programs, like "write me a program that generates a report on how many widgits I sold last year, how many components I bought, which and for how much, and by the way include last-in-first-out tax accounting." The funny thing is, I don't really enjoy programming. It's just that it's such an easy job, and I can work indoors while I'm sitting down and I get coffee breaks and everything.

(2) I assign nicknames to EVERYBODY! This is probably the weirdest thing about me. It's not that I can't remember your real name, it's just that ... mmmm ... I can make up better names than your mother could. Perhaps your mother was just to conservative to call you BigDawg, or G-Man, or Norm the Ungrateful or WhiteFish or Harold the Barbarian or (my personal favorite) SWMBO! I got started in the army. I was an infantry platoon sergeant in Viet Nam (no, I never did see John Kerry there) and I quickly learned that everybody had a nickname. Assigning nicknames to the new guys was one of my unofficial duties. "Whitey" was a guy with very light blond hair, even though he wanted everybody to call him "Ghost". Doesn't work that way, pal, I'm the boss of this platoon. "Teddy" was a guy with wire-rimmed glasses, after Theodore Roosevelt. I won't tell you the nicknames I gave the various platoon leaders (Lieutenants) who came through during my sojurn, but they were uncomplimentary. I never met a second lieutenant I didn't despise, although I did know a good First Lieutenant. We called him El-Tee (Lt.)

(3) I'm a gun blogger, more or less, and I can't tell you how many guns I have. I know there are more than a dozen rifles in the house, and less than a dozen pistols, so it shouldn't be too hard to keep track. I don't care enough to bother. Sure, I have it all written down somewhere, with serial numbers & descriptions and with photos too for insurance purposes, and if I wanted to I could probably name them all and describe them. But who cares? If I need a gun for a special purpose, I can go rummage around and find one that can be used. Heck, there are 3 or 4 of 'em in this room, but I don't know what all of them are.

(4) The room where I keep my PC is called the "Hell Room". I've always had a Hell Room. That's where all the overflow "stuff" is kept. But since I've started spending much of my evenings working on the computer, and moved into a place with a 2nd bedroom where I could set up my roll-top computer desk, that has become the Hell Room. I've got a big red-leather reclining chair that you can't sit in, because it has 'stuff' piled upon the seat. There are boxes of softwaer, broken DVD players, magazines, gun stuff and an external DVD writer sitting on the floor. Nobody can ever steal my computer. Even I can't get to it without difficulty, and if you don't know the path from the door to my chair, you probably won't be able to leave the room once you get in.

(5) I really DO do things just to irritate people. Almost everyone who knows me is aware of that. Just ask my sister, she'll tell you. For sixty years, she has been trying run my life, and when I don't do what she says, she says "You just do that to irritate me, don't you!" That's probably why I write, too. It doesn't matter what the subject is, or whether I know anything about it, or even whether I have an opinion. Give me a subject, and by the time I'm done I'll have an opinion and I'll be convinced that it's the only RIGHT opinion, too. Some people find that irritating, and even more irritating is that I not only will write about anything, I'll take forever to say something that can be said in a dozen words or less. Try this: go back over these points, keep the first sentence in every paragraph and throw out the rest. It's a better read, right?

Okay, you've suffered enough.

When I started to write this, I thought I would just let this branch of the meme die a dignified death. I've changed my mind. Instead, I'll pass this on to some people who deserve better, even if they have already responded to it.

Mr. Completely
Vile Bill
Cowboy Blob (who LOVES memes!)
Lay Lines

I do this, of course, only to irritate them.

Heh heh heh . . .

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Magnificent Seven Lives - NOT!

One of my all-time favorite movies is "The Magnificent Seven", John Sturges and William Roberts' apocraphal and marvelously pivotal 'western' which glorifies the willingness of rude men to suffer that others may live peacefully.

(This was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece, "Shichinin no Samurai" (The Seven Samurai).

The Magnificent Seven were played by:
Yul Brynner - Chris Adams
Steve McQueen - Vin
Brad Dexter - Harry Luck
Charles Bronson - Bernardo O'Reilly
Robert Vaughn - Lee
Horst Buchholz - Chico
James Coburn - Britt

And, of course, the villain's role was admirably played by Eli Wallach as Calvera.

This paeon to these wonderful actors is inspired by the notification by "Dead or Alive" (see the sidebar; the link has been there for a year) that today is the 3rd anniversary of the death of Brad Dexter. He died 3 years ago 'today' (12/12/2002) at age 85 of emphasema.

This made me curious about the current 'state of entropy' of the rest of the stars of this siminal film.

Yul Brynner - Chris Adams: died of cancer in 1985 of cancer at the age of 65
Steve McQueen - Vin: died of cancer in 1980 at the age of 50
Brad Dexter - Harry Luck: again, died of emphasema in 2002 at the age of 85
Charles Bronson - Bernardo O'Reilly: died of Pneumonia in 2003 at the age of 81
Rogert Vaughn - Lee: Born in 1932, now aged 73, he is still Alive
Horst Buchholz - Chico: died in 2003, at the age of 63, of Pneumonia
James Coburn - Britt: died in 2002, at the age of 74, of heart attack

What of the immortal Chavez (aka "Tuco" from "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly"?)

Eli Wallach - Calvera - Alive

Born in 1915, Wallach is now a robust NINTY YEARS OLD and has survived 6 of the seven "Magnificent Ones".

How about the administrative side of the movie?

John Sturges
- Director: died in 1992 at the age of 81 of heart attack
William Roberts - Writer (screenplay): not listed in DEAD OR ALIVE, but IMDB lists him as having died in 1997 due to 'respiratory failure', at age of 83

Still-alive Robert Vaughn (who went on to portray Napoleon Solo in "The Man From Uncle" in 1964 - 1968) played the part of "Lee", the gunfighter who finally overcame his fear of dying and was the first to die in the movie.

Still-alive Eli Wallach played the villain Calvera and was the last to die in "The Magnificent Seven". He's still working on a movie, scheduled for release in 2006, called "The Hoax".

Curiousm, isn't it? The first and the last; the worst and (arguably) the best.

What conclusions are we to draw from this?

Nothing, in particular.

The only real coincidence I find is that Steve McQueen once stared in a television series called "Wanted - Dead or Alive" from 1958 to 1960.

If you would listen to a few seconds of Elmer Bernstein's memorable theme song, you might be able to download a RealPlayer version of it here.

Thus spracht ME: Visit from overseas

Thus spracht ME: Visit from overseas

"Steaming Dragon" from Ohio passes on this personal experience tale of being caught with firearms-training related content up on his (personal - not work) computer at his multi-national corp. office during a tour of Japanese associates, conducted by "Mr. Big".

Bottom line, the company sponsored him to train a number of said multi-national corporation folks in firearms handling.

Big win all around. Said trainees were impressed that they could get firearms training which was not available to them at 'home'. Mr. Big is informed that SD's training techniques are highly effective. No resume'-dings seem to be in SD's future.

I love a good story with a happy ending, don't you?